You guys ready to learn how to decorate sugar cookies like a pro?
I hope so! I know royal icing can seem pretty intimidating, in fact I was intimidated by royal icing for years until I sat down and watched a bunch of different tutorials and realised I had nothing to be scared of! So if you are secretly thinking that royal icing is way too hard and there is no way you can pull it off, think again. You can totally master this because I’ve totally got you covered with everything you need to know!
First things first, let’s talk about ingredients. You will need one 2 Lb. bag of powdered sugar, meringue powder (AKA powdered egg whites), water, and gel colorant(regular food dye doesn’t work here). Now, obviously, water and powdered sugar are easy to come by, but gel colorant and meringue powder? A little less run-of-the-mill but, can be easy to find if you know where to look. I like to buy mine from either Michael’s or Sur La Table as they sell both, have a wide selection of gel colors and are relatively inexpensive. If you don’t live near either of those retailers, here is a link for meringue powder, and another link for gel colorant🙂
Now that we’ve covered the ingredients, get a large bowl (the powder tends to spray when mixed) and add the powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water. Mix on low. The mixture is going to be pretty thick at first, that’s OK. Just continue beating until no clumps remain. Now it’s time to do the “15 second test” as I like to call it to see if your icing is at the right consistency.
To do the test, take a toothpick and drag it through the icing. Slowly count to 15 and, if the imprint hasn’t completely faded, you need to add more water. The best way to adjust the consistency is by adding water 1 tbs. at a time, then trying the test again. Luckily, at this stage, royal icing is pretty flexible. If it gets too watery, simply add more powdered sugar and if it is too thick, add a touch more water. Easy.
Now we get to the fun part! Adding the color! For this batch, I chose to use a Moss Green color but you can use whichever you like. Before you add any color, be sure to split the base according to how many different colors of icing you plan on making (I usually divide it in half). Then, take a toothpick and dip it into the gel and then swirl it into the white base and mix thoroughly with a spoon. Continue adding colorant (one toothpick-full at a time) until you achieve the shade you want!
Now that you have your icing colors, it’s time to edge the cookies. (In case that term means nothing to you, edging basically means putting a barrier around the cookie to hold the icing in place so it doesn’t run off the edge.) To get a clean edge around the cookies, you want two different consistencies of icing for the edging ( thicker) and the filling (thinner). I like to put about half of each color into a piping bag (with a small tip) then reserve the rest to fill in the cookie (be sure to cover with saran wrap while you edge the cookies so your icing doesn’t dry out). TIP: If you want to do Royal Icing with kids or large groups, I would suggest putting the icing into squeeze bottles with small tips. They’re easy to clean up and a bit more manageable if you’re not doing intricate designs).
To edge, grab the piping bag firmly (keeping an even pressure) and touch the tip to the cookie then gently pull up and drag the line of icing around the cookie. I know it sounds weird but it works! And if you mess up, simply scrape off with a toothpick and start again.
Next, take the reserved icing of the same shade and add 1/2 tsp. of water and stir. The consistency of the flooding icing should be around 8-10 seconds. Once ready, simply take a small spoon and place a blob in the middle of the cookie and tilt the cookie back and forth to fill in. To eliminate any air bubbles, you can either shake the cookie back and forth or, use a toothpick to pop the bubbles (both methods need to be done immediately).
And now you have gorgeously iced cookies! The awesome thing about royal icing is that when it dries you can stack them together without any damage to your beautiful art work! And for those who think it tastes bad? You haven’t tried these!
* Check back on Friday for Part Two of this post; how to create fun designs using royal icing!
- One 2 lb. bag of powdered sugar
- ½ cup meringue powder
- ¾ cup water
- gel colorant of your choice
- In a large bowl, add the powdered sugar, meringue powder and water. Mix on low speed with a hand mixer until smooth.
- Do the 15 second test to make sure your icing is ready (see post above for instructions).